Pennsylvania Gov. names new Chairwoman for the Gaming Control Board



ennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) Chairman David M. Barasch announced Thursday his retirement from public service, which includes almost six years in the leadership position of the state’s gaming regulator. Later on the same day, Gov. Tom Wolf named Commissioner Denise J. Smyler to replace him as chair​woman, and he also appointed Nedia Ralston to the Board.

Wolf originally appointed Smyler to the PGCB in 2019. Prior to that, she served as General Counsel of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where she oversaw the provision of legal services to the governor, his senior staff, and more than 30 executive branch and independent agencies.

Barasch was appointed by the Gov. in 2015 to a three-year term on the Board as Chair, and he accepted a second three-year term in July 2018. All PGCB Commissioners are limited to a total of six years on the board.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.

Barasch’s decades-long career serving both state and federal government included Consumer Advocate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Special Assistant to Governor Bob Casey, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

During his term as Chairman of the PGCB, the gaming industry in the state saw a period of growth, second only to the initial period of licensing and opening of casinos in the mid-to late-2000’s, the regulator said in a press release. During his tenure as Chair, the legislature approved and placed under the PGCB’s regulatory watch internet gaming, sports wagering and truck stop video gaming terminals. From the 2018 launch of these new forms of legalized gaming, the revenue generated from these coupled with the established casino gaming market rose from $3.2 billion annually to an expected $4 billion in 2021.

“The Gaming Control board and the public benefitted from David Barasch’s deep experience and steady hand during the past six years,” said PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole. “At no time in the history of this agency were those qualities more important in a Board Chair than during the past year of unexpected and unprecedented disruptions to the gaming industry due to Covid-19. During that period under Chairman Barasch’s watch, the agency not only carried out its casino oversight responsibilities but continued its important work of assuring the new forms of gambling were successfully rolled out.”

Ralston most recently served as Director of the Southeast Regional Office for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Before taking on that role, she worked as a deputy finance director on the Tom Wolf for Governor Campaign and Citizens to Elect Dwight Evans Campaign. Ralston is a board member for the Southeastern Regional Big Brother Big Sisters of America, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Community College of Philadelphia.

“Nedia has been a great asset to the commonwealth over the years and I am confident she will continue to be so in her new position,” Governor Wolf said.

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